The form in which we have sushi in present times is not actually the way how sushi originated. The actual word Sushi is derived from the Japanese word ‘Su’ (meaning vinegar) and the term ‘Meshi’ (meaning rice).
- Sushi was commercially evolved in Japan, however, it was first mentioned in China; in its original form, Sushi acted as a means of preserving the pickled and salted seafood in fermented rice, without refrigeration. Then, for several months, it was left to ferment. After almost a year, the rice were thrown away and the fish was eaten. This generation of sushi was known as Nare-Sushi.
- When this method spread across southeast Asia, Japanese took the concept even further and started consuming rice along with the filling. This induced them to consume the rice and fish both within a month. This generation of sushi was known as Han-Nare-Sushi.
- Many more centuries later, people started adding vinegar to their sushi to fasten the fermentation process, so that they don’t have to wait for even a month by waiting for lactic acid to develop on the rice. This generation of sushi came to known as Haye-Nare-Sushi.
- The next part of the sushi evolution took place in Tokyo, Japan, during which, it took only 10-12 hours a day to prepare sushi. Hanaya Yohei (1799-1858) found that the ‘Eddoko’ (people of Edo -Tokyo) were looking for a quick meal and it was then that sushi became the world’s first fast food. The rice was salted and vinegared after cooking, and the fish was applied fresh. Sushi was made for the masses and served in outdoor kiosks all over Tokyo. It was basically a larger huge vinegar seasoned-rice ball with stuffed fish. This generation of sushi was known as Edo-Mae Sushi.
- The present day sushi finally got evolved after the invention of refrigeration in the year 1913. The toppings are raw or cooked or marinated and range from seafood to meat to vegetables to eggs. The modern day eaters have made this dish a fashionable and healthy meal and made sushi a global phenomenon. Nowadays, sushi is always freshly prepared and served, often with pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce. In fact, around the world, chefs have started using local fish as a substitute for fishes found in and around Japanese waters.
There are varieties of sushi available these days including
- Makizushi – rolled sushi; wrapped in seaweed. This is the best type for people who have never tried sushi before but want to have an experience of its taste.
- Nigirizushi – hand-pressed sushi; made of a hand formed rectangle of sushi rice with a swipe of wasabi on top, finished with Salmon or tuna or other seafood
- Chirashizushi – scattered sushi; served in a bowl with sushi rice and covered with various toppings called “gu”. The number of toppings varies but 9 seems to be a common number.
- Inarizushi – fried tofu pouches filled with Sushi Rice
- Oshizushi – pressed sushi; a wooden mould is used to make this type of sushi. It is cut into squares or rectangles before serving.
With time, not only Sushi’s taste and varieties but its aroma has evolved too. It is also said that mastering the talent of preparing sushi takes years of practice for a chef or an individual. A sushi chef often spends a decade or even more in training. Despite being a global dish savored by many, there will always be mysteriousness about sushi, the way it is made and the way it is eaten.
In order to distinguish as well as enjoy the flavors of various courses of sushi, it is often recommended to eat sushi in one bite and refresh your mouth with a slice of ginger. So, the Pickled ginger served onto your sushi platter should be eaten in between different types of fish, rather than as an appetizer. Even though you’ll find most of the people using chopsticks to eat sushi, but sushi is traditionally a finger food and it is completely acceptable to eat it that way. It is considered to be disrespectful traditionally to drown sushi in a lot of sauces, as sushi has to be relished in its original form by experiencing the fresh ocean flavor of the fish. For the health conscious, sushi is also available in brown rice.
If consumed in appropriate proportions of its ingredients, Sushi could be an extremely healthy meal, as it’s full of fiber-rich rice, fresh fish and crunchy vegetables.
Shortly, i will also post about various good places in India serving great sushi!
Readers!! If you have an amazing experience of eating sushi at a particular restaurant, do share your experience in the comments or message me; it would be of great help to me, as i would consider adding that to my future post. And I would be happy to make additions into this post if you think i have missed a certain interesting fact about sushi! Do share your knowledge in the comments sections. Thank you 🙂